BECTU has become the first trade union to join an equality campaign for people with disfigurement in the creative industries.
Along with its parent union Prospect, BECTU has signed up to charity Changing Faces’ #PledgeToBeSeen campaign which aims to eradicate negative stereotypes and ensure people with a visible difference are not discriminated against.
As part of the pledge, BECTU has committed to representing more people with a visible difference in their campaigns over the next year and communicating about their pledge internally and publicly.
According to research from Changing Faces, almost one in five people in the UK identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition that affects their appearance.
Of these, one in three people feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result and 41% said that they have felt judged by potential employers and that they have not applied to certain roles because of their appearance.
The collaboration between BECTU and Changing Faces came about after union representative, Dominic Rafferty, who works for the British Film Institute and has a visible difference himself, urged BECTU to join the campaign.
Rafferty had previously worked with Changing Faces when the BFI backed the charity’s I Am Not Your Villain campaign, which called on film industry casting directors, producers, production companies and directors to stop using scars, marks or burns as a shorthand for villainy.
“The awareness generated by this campaign and BECTU’s involvement has to result in tangible outcomes for people working across the creative industries,” Rafferty said.
“I’d like to see BECTU’s example leading to greater engagement with employers in looking at how, for example, job application processes, bullying and harassment policies can be improved to help people with visible differences feel welcome and supported in the workplace.”
Changing Faces chief executive Becky Hewitt said: “We are delighted that BECTU has signed our #PledgeToBeSeen commitment. We need to act now to challenge stigma and prejudice and to achieve better representation for people with visible differences.
“People with a visible difference tell us that they feel excluded and isolated from public life, rarely seeing anyone who looks like them in the media, arts or broadcasting.”
She added: “And unfortunately, if people with scars, marks and conditions are featured, then too often it’s as a shorthand for villainy or victimhood. We think people with a visible difference should see themselves reflected across the creative industries, both in workplaces and in artistic output.”